Increasing numbers of women are wearing £60 fake engagement rings to stop flirtatious men constantly hitting on them, a jeweler has revealed.
And while customers would previously make discrete inquiries about purchasing one, many female customers are “totally upfront” about their motivations.
One woman who admitted using the practice was model Mikaela Testa.
The 23-year-old, from Perth in Australia, told her 2.3 million followers: “Me and my friends get so harassed by men whenever we go out to a bar, a nightclub, anything.
“So we bought fake engagement rings, just so that we can hold up hands and say… f*** off.
“And because men respect other men way more, if you’re engaged to another man, they’re just gonna leave you alone no drama.”
Mr Cooke revealed that people would be “surprised how many people buy them.
“We had one woman who traveled a lot for work and was constantly getting hit on,” he explained.
“She’s not single but she’s not engaged either so some men just thought they had carte blanche.
“She wanted to have something to stop them in their tracks and an engagement ring works perfectly – for most. You know what I mean? What can a guy trying to hit on you in a bar say to that?”
“It’s a conversation stopper and often works well. She wasn’t the only one – we’ve had dozens of women come to us.
“Some even ask for blingy engagement rings so guys think their fiancé must be rich and they can’t compete.
“It’s crazy when you think that they even have to justify brushing a guy off but then that’s the world we live in.”
Mr Cooke said the rings account for about 10 percent of his online business which represents “exponential” growth compared to five years ago when they were negligible.
The stones are made using cubic zirconia – a synthetically-made stone that looks similar to a natural diamond but is made of a different material and is vastly less expensive.
“We see a lot of people who aren’t ready to make the investment or don’t have the funds to buy a diamond ring when they get engaged,” he said.
“But they’re still in love, and they want to show that to each other so it’s an obvious option.
“There are a lot of historic rules about getting engaged, like spending three months’ salary in a ring but a lot of that has gone out of the window now.
“People don’t seem to stick so rigidly to them anymore. It’s more of a case that the ring looks nice and unless you’re an expert and put it under a microscope, you are unlikely to be able to tell the difference.”
Despite this booming demand, Mr Cooke revealed that major retailers have shown “zero interest” in the rings.
“Unfortunately, there is an older guard who refuses to change. At the moment, it doesn’t affect them, but if things continue the way they are going, it may become a case of adapt or die.”